So many sites, Facebook forums, articles and blogpost focus on the breastfeeding journey in its entirety, while there are hardly any chronicling the journey of a formula feeding mom.
Some of you may be confused as to what I’m speaking about but ff moms also have a unique journey that deserves a space and a discussion.
The journey starts with a decision, a failure, depression, bartering and judgement. A formula fed mom can go through all these steps before even feeding their LO for the first time.
For some it is a well thought out decision. They are simply not going to breast feed. They know the pros and cons and are simply not comfortable or confident enough and have decided that for their situation bottle is best.
Some, like me with my first, tried to breastfeed and failed. This, coupled with a lack of breastfeeding support from family, lead to formula being supplimemted and then being exclusive, extremely early in my daughters life.
In hindsight I see the many reasons breastfeeding didn’t work. I didn’t read much on it, as I thought it would be a “natural thing”. I bought a cheap off brand pump, I didn’t research ways to reduce pain or bruising and I didn’t understand the latch differences.
I gave up and had to face the condescending looks when I went to clinic for the first time. Every breast feeding mama and well-to-do nurse had some advice and a few questions as to why the baby wasn’t being “given the best start in life “. I must admit I was ashamed. I began to feel depressed and beat my self up about depriving my baby of what she deserves.
I struggled with these feelings for a long time. It was made worse when my baby didn’t easily take formula either.
She was constipated, had acid reflux, consistently brought up or spit up (it was so bad that in outings we walked with towels not rags). I tried every single enfamil on the shelf. There are ones for fussy babies, gassy babies, babies who spit up, the ones closest to mothers milk, the soy ones, the this ones and the that ones and nothing seemed to settle my LO. I switched and switched until she settled on simalac. Then I bought every tim I saw because I didn’t ever want to run out and have to buy something else that I knew would irritate her.
See the parts of the formula fed journey that isn’t told deals with all this. The constipated and dehydrated baby who cries and whose stool is so hard it hurts to pass.
It is about the half tins and wasted whole tins of milk that you bought which the baby won’t keep down.
It is about constantly worrying about the nutrition and weight gain (and loss) of your LO.
It is about praying you don’t run out of money just trying to find the right formula and hoping that when you find it it isn’t that expensive and that it is easily found.
It is the making sure you have hot water thermos and cool water thermos because unlike boobs bottles aren’t ready on demand, they have to be prepared first. If too hot the worry is that the baby gets burnt if too cold the baby won’t drink it.
It is about making that bottle and then the baby didn’t want it and it wastes and you worry about the fact that that is money going down the drain.
It is about the leaving a bottle out and inadvertently picking it up at 2am and feeding a baby only to realize half way through and sit up the rest of the night monitoring the baby for symptoms.
It is about formula spills in the bag, making a bottle when the Dan is on or in breeze, changing nipples and bitten nipples swallowed, cleaning bottles, buying more bottles, loosing bottles and not having enough bottles on the go. It is about the constant spending and spending and then some more spending just to make sure your LO is fed and healthy. Then it is about the questions and guilt. It is about the need to defend the way you feed your human. It is the need to prove that you are doing what is best in your circumstance in your life for your LO and your family. It is the constant state of being judged and questioned.
The formula feeding journey has as many ups and downs and intricacies as the breast feeding journey and should be recognized.
Have you formula fed? What are your stories.